Time to recap the week that was with quotes, stats, a 2014 NBA Draft Update, a preview of the week ahead, and much more as we get to the Center of the Sun...

It is a difficult task to think back in recent years of a team that was a playoff contender, but had so many different barometers on whether they will win or lose a game. This years Phoenix Suns (23-17) are one of those teams. Sure, Goran Dragic is the man at the moment, but subtract any other player and this team could free-fall.

Game Recaps

@ New York Knicks - L (96-98 OT) Full Recap

vs. Los Angeles Lakers - W (121-114) Full Recap

vs. Dallas Mavericks - L (107-110) Full Recap

vs. Denver Nuggets - W (117-103) Full Recap

So far this season Channing Frye has won games with his shooting, Miles Plumlee with his energy, Gerald Green with his scoring in bunches, Ish Smith while lampooning a starter, and Markieff Morris with his efficiency.

The other names not mentioned are the obvious ones.

Obviously Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe have won games with their overall games and talent.

Obviously P.J. Tucker has won games with his toughness and workman's like mentality.

For this team the sum of the parts is the most important strength that they have. They may not fold like a house of cards if just one is removed, but they play a team brand of basketball that is conducive of having all the parts (or at least most of them) humming together.

This week was a prime example of that as the team was disjointed and a wreck in New York, which couldn't be salvaged despite overtime and the great play of Leandro Barbosa down the stretch.

Against the Lakers Markieff stepped up and against the Nuggets both Smith and Len played a major role.

"Next Man Up," is an old philosophy, but the Suns seem to have embraced that with this roster. Look at Smith when he is checking out of a game. Disappointed he is not closing when he is playing great. Coach Hornacek routinely has to give him a smile, pat on the back, and let him know he did his part. Everyone wants to close and the even more important revelation -- everyone feels like they can close.

That is a dangerous game that can create the biggest surprise in the NBA and the story of the year for the first half of the season, but also can create a house of cards. Through 40 games they have yet to fall over...

Key Stat

7.3 Minutes Per Game

Other than the overtime loss to the Knicks, rookie Alex Len played in every game this week and looked pretty good in each. He did not explode for greatness like Michael Carter-Williams then again he did not fall on his face like Anthony Bennett either. He was steady, rebounded, scored around the basket, and the Suns won two of the three games. Everyone on the roster and in the front office has spoke nothing but praise for the rookie as he is getting healthier and stronger every day to make a full capacity effort when he plays. He had a career-high nine points against the Nuggets and looked good doing so. Head Coach Jeff Hornacek is playing the Alex Len Card well so far. A very important card for this team to have.

Quote of the Week

"It was huge. Anytime we can get the bench that many minutes, especially Alex Len who missed the beginning of the season is awesome. I thought he did well. He is learning. He is bigger than I think people think.... He is tall. He is long. He is so long and tall that he is really another addition to our team. I think Alex, eventually, once he gets things going can play the four. I think you are seeing simple Alex." - Channing Frye

2014 NBA Draft Update

Surrogate Watch continues and the Suns have three first round picks with the current projections, none of which are in the lottery. A slight change of pace from pre-season projections. Here is the update on how the three picks look right now:

Minnesota Timberwolves (19-21) -- No. 12 Overall (Pick stays in Minnesota based on Protections) James Young, Freshman Wing Kentucky -- Same song and dance, the Wolves need shooting on the perimeter and Young is Michael Redd with a touch more athleticism.

Washington Wizards (19-20) -- No. 17 Overall (Pick goes to Phoenix based on Protections) Sam Dekker, Sophomore Forward Wisconsin -- Athletic, skilled, and can shot the ball. Dekker plays a smart, tough brand of basketball as well. Could be a Chandler Parsons type.

Phoenix Suns (23-17) -- No. 22 Overall (Pick stays in Phoenix based on Protections) Jabari Bird, Freshman Wing California -- We all know how the Suns new talent evaluaters like athletes that can play both ways on the court. Bird is not dominating at Cal, but fits that mold as an athletic two-way player with three-point range.

Indiana Pacers (32-7) -- No. 30 Overall (Pick goes to Phoenix based on Protections) Jordan Clarkson, Junior Guard Missouri -- A bit of a combo guard, but with a great first step, great size, and a vastly improved jump-shot Clarkson could be valuable in case the Suns lose either (or both) Eric Bledsoe or Ish Smith this summer.

Keep following along here to get updates and information on the 2014 NBA Draft Class and more.

News & Notes

  • Alex Len notched his career-high in minutes (16) and points (9) this week against the Denver Nuggets
  • Leandro Barbosa signed another 10-Day Contract through January 28th
  • Alex Len and Marcus Morris were fined a combined $40,000 for their roles in the altercation with Nick Young, who was suspended one game

Suns History Lesson

This week in Suns History: January 26th, 1995 -- Former Suns player Grant Hill became the FIRST rookie to lead the NBA in All-Star Votes received.

Previewing the Week Ahead:

Wednesday, January 22nd vs. Indiana Pacers (32-7)

Friday, January 24th vs. Washington Wizards (19-20)

Sunday, January 26th @ Cleveland Cavaliers (15-25)

The long road trip ended last week and the long home stand ends this week against the best team in the NBA and one of those surrogates. This week is a "Welcome Back edition of Suns basketball as you were gone before we knew you Luis, Luis Scola returns to Phoenix for the first time since he was traded to the Pacers over the summer. Scola is back to being efficient, rebounding, and has adapted better to a bench role on a contender than he did here in Phoenix. The Pacers are the leagues best team for a reason. They are No. 1 in every defensive category from shooting percentage (FG, 3PT, 2PT), defensive rebounds, assists against, and points allowed. They get after teams on the defensive end and will know well the skill level of Gerald Green and Miles Plumlee.

Marcin Gortat also returns to Phoenix for the first time, but after 182 games with the Suns (139 as a starter) how will the Suns react to the Polish Hammer?

The Wizards foul a ton so an attacking, aggressive Suns team could put a lot of pressure on them scoring easy buckets at the foul line. They will need Goran Dragic and company to play inside and tap into that weakness all game. John Wall is having a career year, but if he and Dragic simply cancel each other out the Suns have the better coached team primed for a victory.

Then are the Cavaliers who are still the Cavaliers, outside of the Luol Deng addition (18.4 points 4.0 rebounds in five games), they are still an iso offense that can fall into funks. They shoot the ball poorly from mid-range to the three and seem to settle for a lot of those shots throughout the course of a game. They also cannot finish at the rim, but that is another story.

I can see a 2-1 week if the Suns are focused and aggressive from Dragic to Kravtsov.

The Phoenix Suns bucked an NBA trend this season by employing a pair of point guards whose primary offensive weapon is to drive to the rim and let everything else fall out of that. With Leandro Barbosa on hand, the Suns don't have to miss a beat without Eric Bledsoe.

Coming into the season, the Phoenix Suns planned to employ an unorthodox lineup of two point guards to run the offense from different sides of the floor and creating points off their drives to the rim.

Most of the NBA scoffed at the notion, pointing out that neither Goran Dragic nor Eric Bledsoe could properly compliment the other because neither was a good catch-and-shoot outlet, and that the Suns in general couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with jumpers, let alone the inside of the net, when those drives failed.

Drive, drive, and drive again

Yet, Bledsoe and Dragic produced a 10-3 December record together in the starting lineup (12-6 overall as paired starters) because their to-the-basket game was virtually unstoppable.

Goran Dragic is 5th in the league in drives* per game (9.4) and team points off drives (10.2, of which Dragic scores 4.6 himself on 48% shooting).

*Drive, per player tracking stats, is when a player starts 20+ feet from the rim and drives to within 10 feet or less before shooting or passing. Most importantly for this discussion, this stats excludes fast breaks.

Eric Bledsoe is 15th in the league in drives per game (7.5) and 12th in team points off drives (8.6, of which Bledsoe scores 5.9 himself), finishing 57% of those field goal attempts. That 57% conversion on drives ranks him 2nd in the league (to LeBron James) among players with 5+ drives per game.

But when Eric Bledsoe went down, half the Suns offense went with him. The Suns offense is designed around creating points off drives to the rim, but the next best driver was Ish Smith, ranked 86th in the league at creating 3.8 points per game off drives.

Beep beep!

Enter Leandrinho Barbosa.

When the Suns signed Barbosa after Bledsoe's injury, it was as if the waters parted and provided the Suns with a perfect partner for Dragic in Bledsoe's absence.

"He got to the hole several times," coach Hornacek said of Barbosa after the 117-103 win over Denver in which Barbosa had 13 points and 3 assists. "[It] doesn't even look like he is going that hard but he knows when to do it. He takes one or two dribbles and then he explodes and that explosive step is what gets him by people."

In only 5 games, after missing the past 12 months of NBA action due to a knee injury, Barbosa already ranks 31st in the entire league in drives per game (6.2) and 18th in points created off drives (8.6), despite only playing 22 minutes per contest.

Even better, his 54.2% field goal percentage on drives ranks him 7th in the league, among players who drive at least 5 times per game. Not bad for a guy who wasn't in the NBA two weeks ago.

"I think that could be a big weapon for us as we go forward," Hornacek said. "He can also make some plays and passes and kick outs and it will probably help our whole team. He has always liked to drive the ball."

Suns fans recall that Barbosa's game was tailor-made for creating points off drives. He never created a lot of assists. His career high is 4.0 in 32.7 minutes per game, with the next best season being 2.8 assists per game in 28 minutes. By contrast, Ish Smith is posting 2.3 assists per game this season in only 12 minutes per contest.

Still, the Suns look like a better offensive unit when he is on the court. Being paired with Dragic or Ish Smith is good for Barbosa so he doesn't have to run an offense. But this team doesn't employ traditional point guards. Their point guards are attackers who can handle and score. Dishing is only when the play doesn't work.

But it gets even better

We've only seen a portion of what Barbosa brings to the table though.

A career 40% three-point shooter, Barbosa has not taken or made many threes yet (just 1-8 so far). He's getting to the rim without even being a threat to drain the three.

When Barbosa gets completely comfortable in the scheme, expect his three-or-drive game to be an even better compliment to an already potent offense.

Welcome to the Madhouse! Bright Side of the Sun is an amazing and diverse community and it deserves a place where the tyranny of topicality does not rule. And that's what The Madhouse is. It's Bright Side of the Sun's place to talk about whatever you want, whenever you want: trade ideas, new from around the league or why Richard Sherman should be in the WWE. It's all fair game here. Get crazy, y'all.

It was a high scoring game, but the Suns were able to out-score the Nuggets 117-103 to improve their record to 23-17.

Right out the gate, P.J. Tucker hit a three to start the game for the Suns, followed by the fast-break by Goran Dragic and a three by Channing Frye.  The Suns jumped out to an eight point lead before Ty Lawson finally scored at the rim for the Nuggets.

The Suns got careless with an inbound pass the turned into points for the Nuggets. However, both Miles Plumlee and Gerald Green got in on the action early as well with two nice buckets at the rim.  When it looked like the Suns were going to start building the lead, a quick bucket inside by Timofey Mozgov got the Nuggets to within two.

Wilson Chandler hit a jumper to tie it, but then Leandro Barbosa checked in an immediately got to the rim for the Suns.  However, a pick and roll dunk by J.J. Hickson evened the score. 

Barbosa continued to attack the rim and scored another two quick baskets for Phoenix.  However, Denver is keeping the game close all the way by capitalizing on quick baskets off missed shots by the Suns.

Markieff got himself going for the Suns, and Dragic got the steal from Lawson, racing him down court and beating him for the finish at the rim...not easy to do against one of the fastest players in the league.

Alex Len checked in and got fouled hard by Wilson Chandler going to the rim...Barbosa had to hold Len back who was ready to mix it up again...This is one fiery Ukrainian!

Chandler was called for the flagrant one foul and Len went to the line to knock down both shots and the Suns were given possession.  Dragic was fouled and able to convert both of his shots as well...a four point possession!

Len got to the line again on the next trip down and was able to convert one of two.  Len is showing a lot of hustle and physicality out there...he's definitely earning his minutes.  The Suns lead after one, 34-25.

LB with another quick drive and basket to start the second quarter...Meep,Meep!  Markieff Morris and Ish Smith both pushing the tempo and getting baskets in transition early for the Suns as well.

For the Nuggets, Evan Fournier is doing a great job of hitting open shots...Kenneth Faried is still struggling so far, only 1/4 from the field...hopefully he doesn't get it going tonight.  Anthony Randolph got his shot to go, but Markieff is off to another hot start for the Suns, already with 9 points in only 8 minutes of play.

Channing Frye's also making his mark known, he currently leads all Suns with 10.  The only player not finding a way to contribute right now is Marcus Morris who is 0/3 at the moment and has yet to register a rebound or assist either.

Frye hit another couple of threes...He is officially en fuego at the moment.  16 points on 6/8 shooting for Channing in only 12 minutes...scratch that, he now has 18 points after hitting another jumper.  Sizzling!

The Suns and Nuggets continue to trade baskets on both ends of the court, with multiple players getting in on the action.  Plumlee is really struggling to find that hook shot still...and Steve Albert made an astute observation that it seems to be affecting his defense as well...It certainly has.  With Alex Len playing the way he is, I wouldn't be surprised to see him get some extended minutes if Plumlee can't break out of his funk.

Hickson is playing ultra aggressive out there...He gets his hands on rebounds and finishes strong inside.  He is the interior presence for Denver, and a pretty good one at that.

At the half, the Suns keep the lead over the Nuggets with a score of 62-56. Frye currently leads the Suns with 18, Fournier leads the Nuggets with 14.  Both teams are shooting well so far, 51% for Denver and 50% for Phoenix.  The Suns lead with 6 steals compared to just two for Denver, but the Nuggets are controlling the glass so far with 23 rebounds compared to 19 for the Suns.

Green started the second half with a three point make. Then, foul posted up on Ty Lawson and dunked on him...probably my favorite play of the night so far.  Faried with another miss for Denver that led to a reverse lay up by Dragic for the Suns.

Dragic with another lay-up off the glass now...The Dragon is starting to take over!  Timeout Nuggets as the Suns heave stretched the leaf now to 71-57...up by 14, their largest lead of the game thus far.

Wilson Chandler stops the bleeding for Denver with a nice drive and finger roll at the rim, then hits a three on the next possession to close the lead back to nine.  Ty Lawson also hits a jumper and now the lead is down to seven.

Frye gets a tip off a Green miss to end the mini-run for the Nuggets, but then Chandler hit another three for the Nuggets...He's definitely keeping them in this game.

The Dragon hits a jumper to keep the Suns in the lead, but Chandler once again hits a three to shrink the lead even more.  Plumlee once again misses at the rim...only 1/5 at the rim and really struggling.  He only has 4 rebounds so far as well.  You have to wonder if Len is getting ready to check back in sooner than later.

Barbosa checks in and gets to the rim...he now has 10.  Fournier hits another three to shrink the lead down to just four, but Frye's hits a jumper to put the Suns back up by six.

Plumlee goes for the block on Hickson and comes down awkwardly and rolls his ankle.  Markieff comes in for him instead of Len.  The Nuggets are continuing to fight and keep the game close...the Suns need to get good shots and get stops at the other end to keep them at bay.

Frye goes to the line and hits one of two, but it's enough to tie his season high of 25.  The Suns maintain the lead up 84-79 to end the third.  Will they finish this game with enough hustle and energy to put a much needed "W" in the win column?

Ty Lawson starts off the fourth quarter with a quick bucket for the Nuggets to shrink the lead to just three...but then Frye hits a threem and then a baby hook off a quick drive to the basket on the next possession to increase the lead, and register his new season high of 30 points.

Alex Len comes in to make his second half debut now as Markieff moves over to power forward to replace Frye who picked up his 4th foul. Len scores off a pass from Ish Smith...he now has 5 points, which is more than Plumlee.  I bet you didn't see that coming, huh?

The Nuggets are continuing to fight hard, but the Suns second unit is playing with tons of energy, making plays on both ends of the court to hold off any attempt to make a comeback.  They lead 95-86 with just over seven minutes to go in the game.

More back and forth scoring for both teams, with both teams making and missing an equal amount, but the Suns are able to keep the lead without the first unit in the game and only five minutes left in the match.

Len cleans up another miss at the rim to score his season high now of seven points.  He's also playing hard on defense and affecting the inside shots for the Nuggets who have switched to mostly a perimeter game at this point.

With just under five minutes to go, the Suns are still being led by the Ish Smith express who is leading fast breaks and diving to the rim on nearly every possession.  Ish now has 7 points, 4 assists, and 6 rebounds.Marcus Morris is finally makinbg his mark after a very slow start tonight...he now suddenly has 10 points.

The Suns are leaving the second unit in to finish this one.  They have played the entire fourth quarter and done an outstanding job.

Ish passed to Len for the two-handed dunk to put the exclamation point on this game, he now has 9 points adding to his season high, as the Suns cruise to victory 117-103, and improve their record to 23-17.

Nice win for the Suns, and an important one as well.

Game Leaders:

Channing Frye led all scorers and registered a new season high with 30 points in just 27 minutes of play.  He also had 5 rebounds and 3 blocks...Huge night for Frye!  Markieff Morris had another very productive night with 16 points on 6/11 shooting and 5 rebounds.  Leandro Barbosa had a nice welcome back to Phoenix night with his 13 points, 3 assissts, and 4 rebounds.

For the Nuggets it was Anthony Randolph who had a quiet 19 points along with 3 rebounds and 1 steal.  Evan Fournier, Wilson Chandler, and Ty Lawson all pitched in with 17 points a piece.

There's no question that the Suns have been in a slump lately, losing five of their last seven games, including a loss to the Dallas Mavericks at home in their last showing. Will the Suns be able to turn it around against the Denver Nuggets tonight?

What: Phoenix Suns Vs. Denver Nuggets

Where: U.S. Airways Center - Phoenix, AZ

When: 6:00 p.m. (AZ)

Watch: FSAZ (Locally) , NBA League Pass

Tonight, the Phoenix Suns (22-17) will take on the Denver Nuggets (20-19) in their second game of a five game home stand. The Suns are in the midst of a slump over the past seven games, winning only two of them. The good news for Phoenix is that they are playing at home where their record is 13 - 6. However, the Suns are coming off of a disappointing home loss against the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night, and they need to hold serve at home against winnable teams in order to stay in the Western Conference playoff race.

Meanwhile, the Denver Nuggets are also coming off a loss on Friday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Denver Nuggets are currently in the tenth spot in the West, and are trying to overcome their own injury issues as well. While the Suns are missing Eric Bledsoe after having meniscus surgery, the Nuggets have been plagued with losses of Danilo Gallinari (ACL, possibly out for season), Javale McGee (broken tibia, out indefinitely), and now Darrell Arthur (groin, out tonight). Will the Suns be able to find a way to win against a very beatable opponent at home tonight?

Stats:

Suns:


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
Goran Dragic 36 35.4 6.8 14.0 48.7 1.3 3.7 36.4 4.5 5.7 79.4 0.9 2.4 3.3 6.0 2.8 1.3 0.2 2.3 19.5
Eric Bledsoe 24 33.5 6.3 13.0 48.6 1.2 3.3 35.0 4.2 5.3 78.9 0.4 3.8 4.3 5.8 3.3 1.5 0.3 2.5 18.0
Gerald Green 39 27.9 4.8 11.2 43.2 2.4 6.6 36.6 1.4 1.7 83.6 0.4 2.7 3.1 1.5 1.5 0.8 0.6 2.8 13.5
Markieff Morris 38 24.8 4.6 9.7 47.0 0.3 1.1 31.0 2.6 3.4 77.5 2.0 3.9 6.0 1.7 1.7 0.9 0.5 2.4 12.1
Channing Frye 39 28.1 4.5 10.1 44.4 2.2 5.3 40.4 0.8 1.1 75.0 1.0 4.5 5.5 1.1 1.1 0.8 0.8 3.0 11.9
Marcus Morris 39 22.6 3.6 8.5 42.7 1.4 3.6 38.6 1.6 2.0 78.5 1.2 3.3 4.5 1.0 1.2 1.0 0.3 2.2 10.2
Miles Plumlee 39 28.0 4.3 8.4 51.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.2 2.4 51.1 2.6 6.3 8.8 0.6 1.5 0.7 1.7 2.7 9.8
P.J. Tucker 39 30.2 3.2 7.8 41.4 1.0 2.3 42.7 1.8 2.3 78.9 2.1 3.8 5.9 1.8 1.3 1.2 0.3 2.5 9.3
Leandro Barbosa 4 21.3 3.5 9.3 37.8 0.3 1.8 14.3 2.0 2.5 80.0 0.8 1.8 2.5 2.3 0.8 0.8 0.5 1.5 9.3
Ish Smith 27 12.5 1.6 4.3 36.5 0.0 0.6 5.9 0.3 0.4 58.3 0.3 1.1 1.4 2.2 0.8 0.7 0.1 0.8 3.4
Archie Goodwin 35 10.5 1.3 3.3 38.6 0.1 0.8 10.7 0.5 0.7 64.0 0.4 1.3 1.7 0.4 0.9 0.4 0.2 0.7 3.1
Dionte Christmas 21 6.8 0.8 2.0 38.1 0.2 1.0 22.7 0.4 0.5 80.0 0.3 0.9 1.2 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.6 2.1
Alex Len 11 6.1 0.6 1.7 36.8 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.4 50.0 1.4 0.8 2.2 0.1 0.4 0.2 0.4 1.6 1.5
Viacheslav Kravtsov 16 3.1 0.4 0.6 60.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.5 50.0 0.4 0.4 0.8 0.1 0.4 0.0 0.1 0.4 1.0


Nuggets:


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
Ty Lawson 37 35.6 5.7 13.5 42.6 1.3 3.5 36.2 5.3 6.6 79.9 0.7 2.8 3.5 8.8 3.1 1.5 0.2 1.6 18.0
Wilson Chandler 31 30.3 4.8 11.7 41.2 1.9 5.5 35.1 1.8 2.5 72.7 1.0 3.8 4.8 1.7 1.0 1.0 0.8 2.8 13.4
J.J. Hickson 39 26.6 4.7 9.3 50.3 0.0 0.1 0.0 2.0 3.5 57.4 2.8 6.3 9.1 1.2 1.6 0.7 0.8 2.5 11.4
Randy Foye 39 25.8 3.6 8.8 40.9 1.9 5.0 37.6 1.6 1.9 83.6 0.3 2.1 2.4 2.3 1.1 0.6 0.4 2.4 10.6
Nate Robinson 39 19.8 3.8 8.8 43.0 1.3 3.5 37.8 1.6 1.9 82.9 0.5 1.5 2.0 2.6 1.3 0.8 0.1 2.1 10.5
Kenneth Faried 37 24.0 4.3 7.8 55.0 0.0 0.1 0.0 1.7 2.9 57.4 2.9 4.9 7.8 0.9 1.1 0.7 0.9 2.1 10.3
Timofey Mozgov 39 19.9 3.3 5.8 56.1 0.0 0.1 0.0 2.2 2.9 73.7 2.1 3.9 6.0 0.5 1.4 0.3 1.3 2.6 8.7
Jordan Hamilton 32 16.9 2.6 6.6 39.8 1.3 3.7 35.9 0.6 0.8 76.0 0.5 3.0 3.5 0.8 0.8 0.8 0.4 0.8 7.2
JaVale McGee 5 15.8 3.4 7.6 44.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.2 100.0 2.0 1.4 3.4 0.4 1.6 0.2 1.4 3.2 7.0
Andre Miller 30 19.0 2.2 4.8 45.8 0.3 0.6 50.0 1.2 1.6 74.5 0.5 1.9 2.4 3.3 1.1 0.5 0.2 1.1 5.9
Evan Fournier 33 14.1 2.2 5.2 42.7 0.8 2.1 39.1 0.5 0.9 58.1 0.3 1.6 1.9 0.9 1.0 0.2 0.1 2.1 5.8
Darrell Arthur 34 18.2 2.5 6.0 41.2 0.1 0.2 25.0 0.6 0.7 87.5 0.8 2.7 3.5 1.0 0.9 0.5 0.8 2.8 5.6
Quincy Miller 15 9.7 1.7 3.9 44.8 0.4 1.3 31.6 0.7 0.8 83.3 0.8 1.4 2.2 0.1 0.7 0.1 0.2 0.8 4.5
Anthony Randolph 17 11.7 1.3 3.5 36.7 0.1 0.6 20.0 1.5 1.8 83.9 0.5 2.5 3.1 0.4 1.1 0.6 0.7 1.5 4.2


Probable Starting Line-Ups:

Suns:

G - Goran Dragic

G - Gerald Green

F - P.J. Tucker

F - Channing Frye

C - Miles Plumlee



Nuggets:

G - Ty Lawson

G - Randy Foye

F - Wilson Chandler

F - Kenneth Faried

C - J.J. Hickson

Injuries:

Suns:

Eric Bledsoe - Out (Knee)

Leandro Barbosa - Day-to-Day (Shoulder)

Nuggets:

Darrell Arthur - Out (Hip)

Danilo Gallinari - Out (ACL)

JaVale McGee - Out (Broken Tibia)

Keys to the Game:

  • Box Out! - The Suns have been struggling on the boards all season, and while they've improved lately (now ranked 16th in the league), they are playing a Nuggets team who is ranked 5th in rebounding. If the Suns are going to win tonight, they have to do their part on the glass. They don't necessarily have to win the rebounding battle, but they can't allow Denver to get a lot of second chance points.
  • Energy! - The Suns have not been playing quite like themselves lately, with slow starts to games and appearing to settle for the jump shot too often instead of getting to the rim. The Suns are a good three-point shooting team, so when they are open they should take it, but they also need to open up lanes to the basket to get more points in the paint. Which leads me to my next key...
  • Plumlee! - Miles...Where've you been? Plumlee has been a lot quieter lately, and it's having an impact on the team. Not only offensively, but on the glass as well...he just hasn't been playing like the same player we saw burst onto the scene at the start of the season. The Suns need Plumlee's energy and athleticism in the post. He gives the Suns an added dimension when he is playing well that they just can't replace otherwise.
  • Break the Law! - The most dangerous player in a Nuggets uniform is Ty Lawson, and the Suns will need to keep him in check tonight if they want to win this game. Dragic will need to make him work defensively, and the Suns will need to play smart defense to hold him to a minimum tonight.
  • Step Up! - We all know Dragic will do everythning he can to carry the team tonight, but one thing we've learned since Bledsoe went down with an injury is that he can't do it all alone. The Suns need another player to step up tonight, and help shoulder some of the load. Will Gerald Green find his stroke from beyond the arc? Will Markieff Morris continue his impressive performance at home? Will Leandro Barbosa finally make his home debut and "Meep, Meep" his way to the basket? Who knows, but if the Suns are going to get this win tonight, someone other than just Dragic will need to have a big game.

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